A Houston attorney has filed a motion for a new trial, arguing the trial attorney should have hired independent experts to verify the blood alcohol evidence that was used to convict James Barry Jones for killing a woman in a drunk driving accident.
James Barry Jones was convicted of killing 32-year-old Candice Wise in a drunk-driving accident. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
On August 5, 2015, Wise was a passenger in a van driven by her fiancé, William Michael Kelley. As the van passed through a flashing-light intersection, it was struck by Jones’ Toyota Tundra. The collision pushed the van that Wise was in 300 feet from the intersection. She died at the scene. Kelley suffered punctured lungs, broken hip, jaw, and forearm, destroyed pituitary gland, and pulmonary embolisms as a result of the crash.
Jones was charged with intoxicated manslaughter and intoxicated assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury. He was briefly jailed, but released on bond.
During Jones’ week-long trial, jurors were presented evidence that showed Jones’ blood alcohol level was 0.166 two hours after his arrest, which is more than twice the legal limit.
Jones pled guilty, saying, “I’m very, very sorry and I know it’s not enough, it’s not even close, but it’s all I can say. I wish it had been me and not her.” Jones’ mother, daughter, and coworkers testified on his behalf, saying that Jones was a good person and wouldn’t intentionally drink and drive.
Jones was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Motion for New Trial
Deborde is now petitioning the court for a new trial for Jones.
Attorney Nicole Deborde stated that, “Any time you have a serious case such as this, criminal defense attorneys are obligated under the law of adversarial testing. The law requires the defense attorney to have evidence tested. That just didn’t happen in this case…This attorney relied entirely on what the government was saying. It’s a breakdown of due process when you don’t have a lawyer who is independently verifying or challenging the evidence.”
Deborde claims that Jones’ trial attorney, Ed Lieck of Anahuac, failed to conduct independent investigation of the facts, failed to interview any of the State’s witnesses before trial, and failed to hire any experts or investigators to prepare for trial.
Lieck defended his actions in representing Jones. He claims that Jones was involved in all of the decisions in his case, “He was given the decision regarding every single expert witness. He knew he had the right to hire experts to test the blood. He knew all of that…My client was looking at an overwhelming amount of evidence of guilt. When any client comes in and has overwhelming evidence against him or her, but has no prior criminal history, sometimes their best chance is during the punishment phase of the trial.” Lieck also notes that he helped his client by having the charges against him reduced to shorted prison terms.